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Mother-in-Law Says: ‘Let Girlfriend Take Over’

Dear Chump Lady,

It’s 4 months now after D-Day (got a text message at the death bed of my mum in May with heartfelt birthday wishes to the love of his life, whilst my birthday is in December) and 1.5 months since my husband of 30 years walked out on his family and is now living his dream with a much younger co-worker. His soulmate. His inspiration. She, the chosen one, who will save him becoming a weird lonely person. (btw, she’s a cheater too, married to a co-worker, now filing for her second divorce, since now she’s fucking the boss, which is so much more rewarding. Or should I say profitable?)

Our daughter who just finished high school is not speaking to him anymore. And OH he suffers! And he’s complaining that it hurts him so so much she accepts his child support cash, but won’t talk. Oh, poor him.

My mum in law called about that. I know her for 30 years now, and we had a very good relationship.

She told me, her son was doing so well, he’s a new person! Not working like crazy anymore, but finding a completely new work-life-balance. In his best mood since EVER!

I told her, I was afraid that once the hormones fade away he will crash.

Don’t you worry about him anymore, she told me. Take good care of yourself, find a new hobby and let his new girlfriend take over.

(His NEW WHAT?! And what am I, his old crush?)

And, she talked on, THE. ONLY. THING. missing for him to be complete, to find eternal happiness, is: to reconnect to his daughter. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Please make her talk to her dad again! Please, will you?

No. Not my intention. She’s grown up now.

I don’t talk bad about my husband in front of her. Actually he is off topic now in our house, since she will start to cry if I ask about her feelings towards the situation. So I stopped to mention him and try to be patient until she’s ready to talk. I try to be as neutral as possible and hide my tears and sadness as much as possible. I go for long walks and scream at trees. A lot.

But of course it’s taking a toll on me to handle a miserable husband (whom I have to talk to from time to time about a mail delivery or finances), a cheerful mum in law and living with a teenager not talking to anyone. Not him, not me or a therapist. Who sneaks out in the middle of the night to walk the city alone and picked up smoking. Attending street fights with the police at some political demonstration and joining weird left-wing extremist groups.

Holding back tears and play the “strong one”, to just be there for her, in case she wants to open up one day. Trying to give her space, not to helicopter, but laying awake at night waiting for her to be home safe.

Whilst he, the cheater, is living his dream. Snatching away the OW for a wellness week in a top notch 5-star designer resort, going to fancy restaurants, ordering “friendship rings”, and having, according to him, the best sex of his life, like EVER. Cheered on by his loving mum.

How to juggle all these feelings? How to reconnect with my daughter? How to stay calm and sane?

Puzzled, sad, scared and very tired


Dear AwakeAtNight,

Begin by referring to these people as your EX-husband and your EX-mother-in-law and retaining a highly qualified legal professional.

Five-star designer resorts? Wellness retreats? Rings? That’s theft of marital resources. Get on that shit. I know this abandonment feels unjust, and it is, but SWITCH GEARS into protection mode, woman! He has abandoned you and your daughter. You’re not going to feel “sane and calm” until you’re well out of this mess.

Your daughter’s feelings are HER feelings, they’re justified, her intact family fell apart, and she has to work out her relationship with her dad on her own. All you can do is model sanity and resiliency and field marshal your way out of this clusterfuck.

Let’s begin by not leaving the Sane Parent post. You have a teenager. You still need to patrol the perimeter. Your house, your rules. This is not a democracy. Enforce the curfew, consequences if she breaks it. Insist on therapy. Ignore her political views. (My son thinks he’s a Libertarian. Their brains aren’t fully formed.) Will she hate you for parenting her? Oh probably. But as her world has fallen into the shitter, she’ll come to be grateful for the stability. That someone is paying attention to her recklessness. That you CARE and you’re not out fucking a co-worker at a wellness retreat.

When she’s out of your house, she can go jump out of airplanes (my son did this… I found the bill….), but while she lives at home? You love her and your parenting work isn’t finished. You may have to scream at a few more trees to get through this stage of life. (The trees are stoic.) Stay strong. Unpopularity comes with the Sane Parent job. Any dipshit can write a check.

Speaking of parents…

Never speak to Mumsy again, okay? Does that sound harsh after 30 years? Yeah, well so is abandonment. Go ahead and set her cell phone name to “New Hobby: Silence”

Do NOT confide in this person. Do NOT reveal your tender underbelly.

She told me, her son was doing so well, he’s a new person! Not working like crazy anymore, but finding a completely new work-life-balance. In his best mood since EVER!

Well, that’s what matters! His happiness! Your birthing vessel services are no longer needed. You’ve been made redundant. Do we apologize to obsolete appliances? No.

Also, hint here: “not working like crazy any more” = voluntary impoverishment at divorce settlement time. Or his affair with a subordinate means he will be job shopping soon. GET LEGAL HELP NOW.

I told her, I was afraid that once the hormones fade away he will crash.

STOP INVESTING IN HIS HAPPINESS NARRATIVE. Who the fuck cares about his hormone levels? If his balls could fit in a demitasse cup? Not your problem.

“He will crash” is your naked hopium on display. He will come to his senses. He will return. No, he is checked out. His own mother is bleating the It’s All For The Best narrative, telling you to move on. Put down the pipe.

Don’t you worry about him anymore, she told me. Take good care of yourself, find a new hobby and let his new girlfriend take over.

May I suggest negotiating a badass divorce settlement as your next hobby? Yes indeed, take good care of yourself. I suspect your mother-in-law was thinking more along the lines of scrapbooking or knitting. Perhaps you could present the girlfriend a tea-cosy on the way out? To match her friendship ring.

And, she talked on, THE. ONLY. THING. missing for him to be complete, to find eternal happiness, is: to reconnect to his daughter. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Please make her talk to her dad again! Please, will you?

Not your job. Glad you made that clear. His suffering relationship with his daughter is a consequence. I’m sure he feels quite immune from consequences. Mumsy probably had a hand in that.

Whilst he, the cheater, is living his dream. Snatching away the OW for a wellness week in a top notch 5-star designer resort, going to fancy restaurants, ordering “friendship rings”, and having, according to him, the best sex of his life, like EVER. Cheered on by his loving mum.

Sorry, that’s where my brain went. Your MIL as Russian Olympic judge. Scoring his BEST sex.

Awake, you’re not listening to Mr. Happiness wax poetic about his boners. You are not permitting that conversation to happen ever, okay? NO CONTACT.

Just like you’re not laying passively in bed while your teenager roams the city streets. You’re GPSing her ass and getting her into therapy, because YOU’RE MOM and YOU CARE.

Take all that anger you’re releasing at innocent trees and start directing it at boundaries and consequences. He wants to waltz out of his marriage? Fine. Stop being a chump and start being a power player in your divorce. Shall your solicitor be deposing his workplace?

Except for tallying up what he’s stealing from your shared assets, stop giving a shit about Schmoopie fest. That whole much-younger wife thing is great until the dementia hits and colostomy bags stage sets in. When the boners whither and he’s just left with no one who respects him.

Anyway, that’s another arc. Right now, reconnect with your daughter by modeling strength. FIND IT. Pages of support here from other survivors of this shit. Hang in there.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • That MIL is toxic. What an awful person. She is the draining energy you need elsewhere . Fuck her, she treats you like shit.
    Invest all your energy first into yourself and then into you helping your daughter.
    You have real friends and real support. Surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart.

    • I went NC with narcy MIL when she was still my MIL and before D-Day. She’s failed to bond with the kids so they never asked after her. Consequently, I never had to deal with gloating MIL Schadenfreude after D-Day. She was blesssedly long gone (yay). I’m only sorry she didn’t end up with tacky rapacious shmoops as a DIL since, without the marriage as protection against having to commit, FW summarily dumped shmoops the second I found out. Oh well. They all deserved each other but, gooble-gobble, not my circus anymore, not my circus geeks.

    • Yep, and I might add, it’s creepily incestuous that he talks to his mother about his fuckfests with schmoopie and they rate her blow job performance together or whatever.

      High ick factor on this one. I imagine it’s not much of an effort to become an entitled cheating douche coming from a family like that. My cheater had an emotionally incestuous, narcissistic mother and an emotionally unavailable serial cheater dad. His sibs are cheaters as well. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have run away from him just on the basis of being instantly creeped out by his family. I figured that since my family was pretty weird and I turned out relatively well adjusted, he had somehow done the same. Not so much as it turned out. This is an example of the kind of chumpy projection that we have to learn to stop doing.

      • I trust CN to encourage the whole NO CONTACT mantra here.

        I have a question and a comment about the cluelessly toxic MIL.

        WTF? She was once close to her daughter in law and knows her son has deeply wronged her.

        I understand the desire for the MIL to have her son reconcile with his daughter (her grand-daughter). But how on earth can she be so callous to say these horrid things to her DIL?

        I know – she believes that HIS proclaimed happiness (impression management) means he must have been justified in betraying and abandoning his wife and marriage. That’s BS but —

        Even so, why rub salt in the wound? Assuming the MIL is not evil incarnate, what is her goal?? I don’t get it.


        I fear and predict the daughter will be subjected end up being subjected to the same BS of “BUT SINCE HE IS HAPPIER NOW -THAN EVER- it’s ALL GOOD.”

        I admit that^^ might be too much for me.

  • Dear AwakeAtNight.

    I was the one who left my fuckwit but my older teenager really went off the rails. He is prone to extreme behavior anyway as he has high functioning Autism. He was taking huge risks and it almost cost him his life. Since I left I have had family based therapy involved. He has solo therapy. My younger son who is neurotypical has a therapist. My older son won’t spend time at his Dads. Sometimes he has to if I need to get out because I won’t leave him alone but he refuses to sleep there. Of course his Dad will not participate in the family based. Through all this every single day I repeat to myself I am the safe and sane parent. When the kids want to go to a football game at school during his scant hours of parenting time I drive them there and back. When my son needs to be picked up from his sport and his dad does not show up I do no judgement. When my son needs rules I enforce them. BUT when my kids need someone to talk to they don’t talk to him. Being the parent sucks but it will pay off I promise. I have a relationship with my kids my ex will never have. They are only here a few more years. I plan to launching them with the best of my ability. Get a lawyer. Show your daughter what a badass you can be! I promise you. My kids respect that I walked out on their abusive Dad and get the best parent for them. You got this!!!! (Go no contact with his insane mom please)

    • I Count,
      My son is also an older teen with high functioning Autism. It’s even more of a challenge when dealing with a FW right? But like you, I’m the parent. I’m the one he trusts. And FW can go suck it. FW doesn’t even do his custodial weekends anymore (for almost 2 years now).

      I had to fight FW with attorneys and therapists because FW would force son over to his house and be abusive — calling son names… calling him “autistic”… locking him outside… shoving him. And the law protected FW until I forced his hand with my attorney. Once I got my son the freedom to be able to come home (it required FW to sign that he would allow it… in my state the kid would otherwise have to be 18 to have a say)… now FW has backed off completely.

      I agree with you…always be the sane parent. And be the badass. So worth it.

      • My ex did the same when we lived together!!! Whats up with fuckwits and kids with HFA? I told him after I left you lay ONE hand on this kid and I will immediately call the police. No more lock outs no more of that crap and he has been good for two years. He ignores him but he will not touch him. He sabotoges him in other ways. Forgets to take him to work or forgets his meds. It’s lovely. My younger son goes to him overnight Friday to Sat AM weekly and Friday evening to Sunday AM every other week. If he has something to do that fuckwit does not want to deal with he lets him not come. I win either way.

        • OMG. You are the first person I’ve run across dealing with the same regarding FWs and a child with HFA. The parallels are unbelievable. When FW spent time with our son, he forgot meds too. And it’s terrifying because many times the meds are time sensitive and dangerous to screw up.

          It’s impossible to deal with these selfish narcissistic FWs. I’m glad we’ve both managed to support our kids through it. You are a badass!

  • Wow, thanks for your spot on analysis of this mess CL! Much appreciated. And thanks for the helpful comments. Most of all I am worried about my kid. How to get her to open up about her feelings and to get her back on track.

    • ((Awake)) I had the same concerns for my youngest son, who was 12 going on 13 when my cheater was exposed. But whenever I pushed for him to “open up about his feelings,” it seemed to make things worse. I think because my son LOVES his mother dearly, and so even though he was angry at her for what she did (he discovered the cheating and outed my ex-wife to me), he felt like sharing that anger with me (or even the therapist I arranged, who seemed to him my proxy) was a betrayal of his mother (who played the sad sausage card to him when I went NC). So, as CL advises, I just did my best to be the sane parent, maintain standards and boundaries, and play the long game. And I do mean LONG. The first couple years were rough (clinging to his mom and acting out), but we always managed to stay connected. Five years later, things were better. It’s now 12 years out (he’s 25), and I’d say he’s healthier and happier than he’s ever been, and so is our relationship.

      IMO, a relationship with a teen child recovering from a parent’s infidelity is not unlike managing a child’s chronic health condition, such as diabetes or epilepsy: Don’t think about “making it go away” so much as managing it, with love, diligence, and patience. It may well resolve at some point, but you can’t think of that four months after D-day.

      Sending you prayers of courage and strength of the journey ahead.

      • Nomar,
        I’ve seen your posts many times but….I just have to ask…I assume you were a Nomar Garciaparra fan when he was with the Sox…or maybe not…I was/am. I think I ‘admired’ Nomar because of his compulsive routines before batting. I know that sounds strange, but… Lots of ball players have superstitions. But, with Nomar, his hand movements/touching his wrists or gloves with his hands seemed a bit something else. Sometimes, he’d have to repeat the movements a couple of times before swinging (I assume he had to get it just right). I say ‘admired’ because I have (now controlled with meds – and freedom from my gaslighting ex) OCD. When my gaslighting ex was present, it heightened my compulsions. So to see Nomar go out there in front of a Fenway crowd, go through his compulsions or superstitions in front of everyone (successfully), and still ground himself to bat one out of the park, was purely amazing to me.

        So after all this time seeing your posts, I just had to write that I’m just curious why you selected Nomar as your name.

        It says a lot to me that my OCD is nearly non-existent since the ex left. I think he played on it.

        Sorry for the side note…

        • Yes, I am an sold Sox fan and remember Nomar and his batting glove rituals well. I think I latched onto him because he led the team when it finally became great (I followed them since 1975 during which the lost constantly). Post D-day I loved the idea of winning after decades of losing—it happens!

          • So true, Nomar! So true!!! There is winning after losing! What a great thing to take away from being a Red Sox fan and applying it here!! And, let’s hope all of us here eventually do the world series victory dance of those that have struggled and then won it all.

    • AwakeatNight,

      Therapy! Insist on it for your daughter and for yourself.

      Find the best you can afford. Interview them ahead of time. Not all are equal. Make sure they have experience with divorce and that they view infidelity as abuse. You don’t want someone who has your ex-MIL’s attitude that “dad’s happiness is what’s important, so get over it.”

      Get angry! Stop any contact with the evil MIL. I know she’s evil because she said this: “She told me, her son was doing so well, he’s a new person! Not working like crazy anymore, but finding a completely new work-life-balance. In his best mood since EVER!” Who would say that to a chump? I would say that her son takes after her. You don’t need that toxic BS in your life.

      Minimize contact with FW, too. The goal is to not know a damn thing about him or his new life. That goes for social media, too! Block! Block! Block!

      You have to believe that any contact WILL hurt you. It might feel good at first, but it will hurt you. Those of us here on CN can attest to the power of NC.

      I, too, was married for a long time (35 years). I knew my ex-MIL well, although I wouldn’t say we were close. It felt odd, at first, to sever ties. But I will tell you that, second to going NC with klootzak, it’s the wisest thing I’ve done. In fact, I really don’t interact with people who maintain contact with my ex. Therein lies my happiness.

      Also, I love CL’s idea for your new hobby. Get angry and use that anger to propel you forward. A side benefit will be that you’ll model some badass-mom behavior for your teenager.

      You got this!

      Come to this site often for support and classic CL snark like this: “Who the fuck cares about his hormone levels? If his balls could fit in a demitasse cup? Not your problem.” ????

      • She will have to cut the ties.

        I was extremely close to my MIL. And since my dad and brothers lived so far away in an era where long distance phone calls were expensive, I couldn’t just talk to them when ever I needed to.

        My mother in law was good to me for a while, but when I changed the lock on my doors, she turned against me. I told her I had to change the lock because I needed a place that I could feel secure in. She wanted a key (as she had always had). She said I should trust her not to give the key to him. I said you don’t understand I need to be the only one in my house, it is nothing against you etc.

        She turned on a dime. It hurt, but it was the best thing for me. She was never going to put my feelings first, only my family would do that. And they did. My dad started calling me a lot, as did my brother. I had some unlikely old friends from a previous church reach out and minister to me by encouraging me to come to their radio station on the weekends and work with them. Heck I even got on air time.

        But yeah the mother in law, she is left to make chocolate pudding out of a pile of shit. She is flailing and desperate. Chumps pain does not matter to her, she has to save the image of that shit pile.

          • Yes. I was extremely close with my mother in law, and I never had any issue with her having a key, or vice versa. She or I never abused it. She lived right across the alley from us in one of our rental houses. She didn’t pay rent, we got a really good deal on the house so she didn’t need to.

            Honestly losing her, was almost as bad as losing my ex. Years down the line, I ran into her at my sons house when my granddaughter was born. She and I had a nice long catch up talk. We didn’t mention fw or whore.

            I still feel a bit sorry for her that the rest of her life she had to deal with that shit pile he created. She knew me almost as well as my own dad did, she knew darn well I adored him and pretty much did whatever he wanted.

            That mess could not have been easy for her. Bottom line is he lied to her for years too. She made decisions based on lies just like I did. She got hurt and so did I.

      • Yep… blocked my ex MIL when she told me during separation, at my son’s college graduation, that we were all better off since he left. She didn’t know that I had found out about all the years she let him visit with his other women while I was home caring for her grandchildren. Thinking he was on military orders somewhere. Eff her. She’s a cheater too. There’s a world of decent people out there….block the liars and cheaters.

        • Yet she was right about you being better off since he left. No more secrets. Much better for you to be rid of him and his cheating ways.

          I’m probably overthinking this, but I do feel a little bad for the MIL who is asked to keep secrets or intercede. Many times there is an unhealthy relationship between heater and parent, but I have to feel a little empathy for the parent of the cheater that didn’t model this behavior yet has an entitled son or daughter.

          But spot on. Block liars and cheaters. Even though I feel for the MIL that didn’t sign up for this, the toxicity in the relationship is already critical.

    • Her feelings are shock, betrayal, and her entire concept of family has been lost. She may not be able to put her feelings into words yet, she is still reeling. No doubt you have offered her therapy. You can assure her that it will take time to sort out her feelings about her father and you support her decision in terms of contact with him. Let her know that if she wants contact with him in the future that you are fine with that.

      It takes quite a few years for a young person to find their feet after their parents divorce

      I hope that she and you can pick up some new activities and hobbies to do together. Something where you are learning new things, or getting out in nature. Plan a trek to doable hiking trails, take pottery, cooking classes, learn to weave. Some positive experiences in the midst of this. Experiences to show her that life goes on despite her dad’s choices.

    • Awake, I get it that you are worried about your kid. But you need to do some mighty multi-tasking here, as all thumped parents do. You have to, as CL says, start parenting this young person who is still living in your home. She may be an adult in your eyes, but she’s troubled right now and acting out like a 14-year old. Set boundaries. Consider getting both of you into therapy or counseling.

      Look, it doesn’t matter if she opens up about her feelings right now. And she probably can’t do that with you because she knows you’ve taken a terrible blow. Moreover, she may be very very angry at her father right now, but while you are likely to sever your contact with your STBX, he will be her father forever. So she is essentially in a very different position from you. Getting her into therapy with someone who works with traumatized kids her age is your best bet that she will open up in a place that feels safe. Your job is to steer her in that direction while you protect her from the terrible things that can happen to a young girl prowling around at night.

      You’re only 4 months from D-Day, so it’s typical that you are still harboring some hope that he will come to his senses. But here’s a baby 2X4: that doesn’t matter either. Your job now is to protect yourself emotionally, psychologically and financially. He’s already dissipating marital assets and cutting back at work to reduce income. In the U.S., you can argue that he is voluntarily reducing his income to avoid paying support to you and that he’s spending joint money so you can’t get it. You’ve put 30 years into this. Do you intend to walk away with nothing while the OW gets your house, your stuff and all the money? If not, lawyer up. And get the very best, very toughest lawyer you can find.

      Let’s say your X does eventually get tired of YoungSchmoopie and wants to come home where an adult is taking care of all the business of life. Or maybe he decides he’d rather stay married and keep his money and just cheat on the side. You can decide he’s not worthy of you, which he’s pretty much demonstrated by his behavior.

      As for the mother-in-law, she raised this jackass, and while you might have gotten along with her when you didn’t know what you were married to, now you can see that she’s a whacko. I mean, telling you to hand-off your marriage to the girlfriend? That’s nuts.

      Rein in your kiddo. Protect her. Stop trying to get her to open up and start working on your own saner response to what’s happened. Once your daughter sees that you have your big girl pants on and you can express and act on your own anger and outrage, once she sees you protecting her ability to go to college and your ability to support the two of you, she may decide it’s safe to talk to you.

      And please–block your STBX and your ex-MIL immediately on phone, text and social media. Your MIL right now is just carrying water for her little boy, who must be happy at the expense of others. Now you can see what she is really made of, and it’s not good.

      Get busy.

    • Awake, you are not alone.

      This takes TIME. And I mean, time! Us: 7 years.
      In my case, risky (life threatening) acting out including lying to and manipulating her therapist as a teenager; and now in meaningful therapy at 22.

      The breakthrough for me was talking about gentle, neutral and slightly regressive things: the cat, the garden, friend’s news.
      After 2 years she cautiously responded. Don’t talk about ‘the situation’.

  • Dear AwakeAtNight;
    Listen, this shit is hard and I hope that you are giving yourself lots of love because it sounds like everyone else is trying to shoot you in the knees!
    I second (or third) the therapy for your daughter. Like you, she is trying to walk through her feelings but she’s not smart enough to yell at trees yet. She’ll get there, especially with your help. I think that it is really healthy for her to know that you are sad, too. Not sobbing in front of her (or even yelling at trees) but it is so easy for kids when they’re mourning to feel alone. Although watching her cry when you mention her father is painful, crying is a very normal response to what she is experiencing. She may need you to help her do that.
    None of this is a walk in the park but it is also doesn’t stay this crappy forever. There is another side. Protect yourself and your daughter. You are worth it.

  • Awake at Night,
    This broke my heart. You were married 30 years. You’re only 4 months from DDay. You’re still in the trauma from it all. But that’s when you need to do what CL is telling you. Get everything lined up with an attorney and protect your finances and get free of that ass.

    What a great new hobby and focus! Go through all your credit cards and info and find all the things FW has been wasting your money on… be sure to get reimbursed for that 5 star resort week long ”wellness” trip. That $10k+ goes right back in your pocket.

    For your daughter — please get on that now. She needs help. She needs a mom. It’s so hard when you’re grieving and going through the trauma too. But all kinds of things could go wrong for her and you need to find a way to let her know that you are in this together. Support her but this isn’t negotiable. She needs to be safe and get therapy.

    Your EX MIL is proof that apples don’t fall far from the trees. FW is an unempathetic using narcissist… and it seems he learned it well from his narcissist mum.

    The FW I dealt with came from a narcissist mom… before I knew better, I reached out to her the day after DDay. She faked tears and promised to help me. Then within a week she turned on me like a viper and blamed me for everything… not naming anything … just saying “you know what you did.” FW’s father just told me “you just want us to hate our son.” And just like that, it was over. No more relationship with FWs idiot parents. I even got a crazy ass letter from MIL placing more blame on me.., it would be a great fodder for the UBT. I set it aside for use with my attorney.

    And that’s your job now — lining up everything with an attorney. Focus only on getting that dickhead served. I served mine right in his office with his coworker AP. Then his attorney said “you tried to get him fired.” Me response? No — they are fucking around at work and he’s her supervisor. That’s on them. I had no other place to serve him that I would be certain he’d be. And I had proof that he was about to be fired by his boss anyway. So they shut up on that.

    Later when they pushed back, My attorney let them know we planned to subpoena FW’s and coworker”s supervisors … and that forced his hand to settle appropriately. Even your STBX has a boss or owner above right? Unless he’s the owner. Either way, there are ways to strike fear when a supervisor is f***ing a subordinate. Attorneys don’t like it. Nor does HR.

    Take your power. Use your power. Get everything you can and break free of that dick and his horrible mother. Start with the best attorney.

    Notice how I didn’t mention FW’s relationship with your daughter? Not your circus, not your monkeys. Not your job. Just focus on getting your daughter ok and safe, your divorce, and your freedom from a FW. Please also be sure to get a therapist to support you through this.

    • Side note: I interviewed 4 lawyers and hired one within a couple of weeks of DDay. My ex was served quickly. He was startled and used my early action as some sicko proof that I didn’t love him, that all I care about is money, and that the sainted OW (a cheater herself who knew my ex was married) would never do something like that to him.

      Here’s what I had to teach my chumpy mind to believe: Who cares what he thinks?

      Do what you need to do for yourself and your daughter. Rejigger your thinking about him. It’s freeing. Believe me.

      Good luck!

    • This broke my heart. You were married 30 years. You’re only 4 months from DDay. You’re still in the trauma from it all.

      AND her mother just died! She was at her mother’s deathbed when she got the errant message. That’s just so much grief. I’m sure she feels all alone in the world and utterly unprotected. I’m glad she found CL and the CL community.

      • I’m not convinced that text was even errant. Some of these FWs choose to accidentally on purpose get caught out just when you are at your lowest, figuring you will be in a weakened state and therefore will not fight for your rights as you might otherwise do. Plus, they are sadistic bullies who like kicking you when you’re down.
        All the more reason to go scorched earth on them legally and beat them to the punch.
        What a sick bastard this guy is. His daughter is suffering and troubled and he’s bragging about the quality of his ejaculations to his mother.

    • “My attorney let them know we planned to subpoena FW’s and coworker”s supervisors … and that forced his hand to settle appropriately. Even your STBX has a boss or owner above right? Unless he’s the owner. Either way, there are ways to strike fear when a supervisor is f***ing a subordinate. Attorneys don’t like it. Nor does HR.”

      This. This is leverage.

      • Yep. My fw was fucking his direct report. Then when he got busted and lost his cushy office job, he had the audacity to think that the mayor had betrayed him. Never occurred to the asshole that it was just business, the mayor could no longer trust someone who had been lying to him, and hiding a dangerous relationship. One that could cost the city a lawsuit, and not just from the whore, but other women working there who could claim a hostile working environment.

        I really wish at some point he would have complained to me because I would have said well fw, you were no longer of use to the mayor since you have been outed as a liar and a cheat vs the happy family man you portrayed. So since you no longer have any value to him he cut you loose. YOU, of all folks should understand that.

        • Even though it’s never perfect, when you have a FW sleeping with a subordinate — the chump has leverage. In the FWs delusional mind, they are powerful and mighty — sleeping with a subordinate coworker (often much younger… not in my case).

          But from a business point of view it is highly risky. As others have stated — lawsuit risk. The two of them may end up with issues that play out at work. Hostile work environment for others. It’s a hot mess for employers.

          The risk you take in going after it is that FW may lose his/her job and income. You have to be smart and use your attorney here. The court will unfairly blame you if they lose their job. It’s more about leverage so that you can scare them into settling fairly. Without it, many FWs fuck around with paying appropriate support.

          In my case, FW was a senior VP in finance with only 12 people in the whole office… a start up company run by a man who was featured in Forbes. OW was s level down. I thought FW was about to make CFO, but Mr Forbes boss actually hated FW and was in the process of firing him just as I had DDay. I didn’t know that though. The day after DDay I reached out to Mr Forbes boss and another senior manager above FW and OW and said I was sorry we didn’t know each other better. I was unaware that FW and OW were together. It was a 2 lines max email. The next day FW and OW were called in to see an attorney to sign away any rights to sue the company. How embarrassing for them.

          Soon after FW made me go into his office to drop off son’s musical instrument for school. I told FW that he should come outside the building to pick it up. FW wanted to embarrass me by making me go into the office and everyone to see me. I pulled up my big girl pants and walked up. Their small office was secured for a big meeting. So I rang the bell (about 20 times) and FW came running out flushed. I LOUDLY exclaimed “here is son’s violin – please next time just pick it up outside like I asked. I don’t think it’s appropriate to order me to come into your office during meetings. Thanks. “

          At this point I walk down into the parking garage and run into Mr Forbes boss. I walk straight up to him, explain who I am and apologize for the mess with FW (we had never met before… I recognized him from Forbes magazine — for real). Mr Forbes boss grabs my hands and apologizes and tells me how much he hates FW and that that “ass will never work with me again.” He said he was already firing him. And he was sorry for what happened but that I was much better off.

          It was surreal. But I got all the leverage I needed. FW lost his job but was still forced to pay reasonable support… which he had to borrow from OW and his parents. He was almost 50 at the time. What a loser.

          • Yep folks especially with kids have to be careful.

            I never went after his job situation, never occurred to me. Honestly I didn’t have to as it turned out. The brass took care of him. He got busted, put back out on the street to patrol and the mayor cited “organizational changes”. He couldn’t do a thing about it. He pretty much knew he was lucky he didn’t get fired. He liked to city counsel, to the brass they made decisions based on his lies, just like I did.

            I only knew because I saw the write up in the little local paper. I was surprised, but would be lying if I said it didn’t put a smile on my face. He and I worked side by side for years to help him attain his pinnacle, and he dicked it away on the town whore, she wasn’t even young and sexy.

  • Toxicity runs in their family….stay away! And, while I know you are very worried about your daughter may I suggest you talk to her about all of this, just keep it sane. Mainly because this is her family too and she needs to learn how to navigate around toxic people and set boundaries. It’s ok to talk negative about your ex just don’t say over emotional things like “I wish him dead”, “his whore”, “he is fucking crazy”, etc. (you might be thinking that but don’t say it to her). That talk actually hurts you instead of helps. Instead, use the truth to speak negative of him “your father hurt me and us so badly”, “why couldn’t he be a man and tell me to my face he was unhappy before going behind our (pointing to you and her) backs and hooking up with a coworker”, “he lied to us”, “he cheated on me”, “he exposed me to STD’s, hurt me financially, etc”. Some people think that’s to much but I say differently….she needs you to be the safe truthful person. Be her safe person/place where she have, express and emote those feelings.

    Tell her you are upset and hurt with her dad, tell her how devastating it was to you that he cheated on you after 30 years, tell her about the fucked up MIL trying to blameshift and ridicule you all the while begging to get her to talk to her dad….tell her ALL of it, just keep it matter of fact, to the point, clean and (most of all) honest! Do not sugar coat it. Then ask her if she would like to talk about her feelings. Be vulnerable and let her vent. Then point out the lessons you want her to learn from all of this like: Boundaries and how having them is so important, Red Flags in people and what to stay away from, how it’s a parents responsibility to provide for their spouse and children without expecting anything in return (like communication or more abuse).

    This tactic was encouraged by my therapist after my ex and his sidepiece character assassinated me to my (then) small children, my family and friends. He told me people (especially children) generate their own truth and most of the time it doesn’t fair well for the sweet/sane parent because the abuser is driving the narrative. (Just like he snowed over MIL and she was telling you in every way she possibly could that he is living his best life now) I almost lost my kids because I sugar coated everything to protect them from the truth. In fact, it almost cost me custody of my kids bc douche bag and sidepiece took me to court for a long drawn out custody battle (I won and partially have to this tactic to thank because my kids figured out the truth and sang like canary’s). Now, our relationship is very close…they are now in high school and we talk about EVERYTHING (drinking, sex talks, kids being jerks, their dad being a jerk, social media stuff, boundaries and the importance of them). They know I am the safe person they can come too….even when its stuff that they get in trouble for because I love them. Hope that advice helps!

    • Southern chump, I believe you hit on a really good point. We try to protect our children by not sharing, that we have feelings too. It’s all about cheaters happiness, wants or acts of stupidity. Dumping on our kids helps no one. But how can we ask them to share how they are feeling, but refuse to share our feelings. Everyone can feel, sad, angry, confused and mostly adrift. Then we share how to move forward, teach how to survive. While we too figure it all out. Teaching how to be badass , while feeling less than, teaches a lot. IMHO

      • Navigating this myself. My daughter is almost 6, and was not even 2 when I divorced her cheating FW father. She knows dad lied and broke very important promises. I do share with when I’m having a hard time, and trying to encourage her to do the same. If they don’t see we’re human — that we have feelings and can be sad/mad/tired/etc., they will be so disappointed when they grow up to see that adulthood isn’t a walk in the park. I don’t have the energy to keep up the illusion, but I also don’t think we’re giving an accurate picture of this whole thing if we gloss over everything and pretend it’s all OK. Cheaters also bank on the other parent keeping their mouth and playing into the image management/I’m not a villain bullshit they have no issue putting out there (I mean, why just stop at one big lie, you know?) It’s so hard not to throw that back on them, but kids can get caught in the crossfire. I’ve certainly said too much on occasion, but I am trying so hard to maintain boundaries and a reality that I find at least passingly acceptable. Sometimes things slip. I am very much working on forging ahead though, and showing her what a little independence and mightiness can do, and reiterating that certain things were just not acceptable to me. As she develops her social skills and interactions, she is encountering this on her own level. It just makes sense to share with your kids at an age appropriate level so they can figure this (and other similar situations) out on their own too. Life lessons based in real life.

        • Big Hugs ChumpOnIt! I remember those days very well….them being so young, me getting over emotional at times. It was hard but navigating those emotions together actually saved me and my children in so many more ways than I could ever imagine. Just you wait and see what a badass you and your daughter become. ❤️❤️❤️

    • To add to what Southern Chump has expressed so well, I think the sweet/sane parent does not fare well because the children don’t want to lose their father (or mother, in the case of female FWs). They know they can be abandoned because, hey, he’s already done it to Mom. So they walk a tightrope of pain and confusion, wanting to be loved, and fearing being abandoned. It makes some sort of psychological sense that it is easier to blame the sweet/sane parent, because they know that parent will love them no matter what, is in it for the long haul with them, no matter what. And I agree with you on the need to be 100% honest. Not give them the crazy, sordid details, but to answer all questions honestly. The kids are going through their own sort of Dday, and being exposed to the same sort of gaslighting. I never understood the importance of the truth as well as I did when I found out my life was built on a foundation of lies.

      Awake, I am so sorry your daughter is going through this. Like the rest of CN I’d say you must get your daughter in therapy asap no matter what, because her safety is in serious danger. To me that comes before lawyers or any other thing.

      • This is so true! My therapist talked about this concept with me “authenticity vs attachment”. See the link below for a video on this. This is where going the route of being the same parent is so important, but it’s hard to do. As many have already said – play the long game.

    • This has been my philosophy from day one. In a sense, it came naturally as the kids and I were in the same boat. We couldn’t figure out what was going on, and none of his stupid explanations made any sense to anyone with a fraction of a brain. So we all discovered the kind of person their fuckwit dad was together. I spent a lot of time reading material on covert narcissists once I spotted the the match. I hate that labeling people narcissists is so trendy now because it waters everything down and makes you seem like you’re just joining the crowd. But, unfortunately, fw is very much disordered. Friends told me I shouldn’t talk about this with my kids but I think that is some crazy 1980’s child-psych textbook idea. My response was always, “would you tell your kids their father was an alcoholic or would you just let that elephant hang around without acknowledging it?” I felt I needed to educate them on it just so they had some coping tools. So whenever fw does or says something ridiculously selfish and hurtful, they know it’s not about them. They know he loves them, but they also know that his version of love is limited. Bottom line – I’m so glad other people agree with being honest and straightforward with the kids, especially therapists! So many still believe that being honest about the fw’s actions is “bashing.” It’s not. It’s educating, preparing, and protecting them. That’s what parents are supposed to do.

  • Dear Awake at Night,
    My apologies for your troubles but it seems you are an awesome mom and doing what CL says will give you a new and awesomer life with your daughter. Do as CL says. He was just a sperm donor and you tossed him in the trash.
    No contact. Remember he sucks.

    Xioba Xioba

  • Hi, AAN.

    I’m so sorry for the hurt, pain and confusion your STBX has thrown at your family. It will get better. I’m almost 3 years out from “Get the Fuck Out” day (23 year marriage, 28 year relationship). My daughter had just started college and like yours, decided to cut him out when we told her. It’s been almost 3 years and she still refuses to see or speak to him.

    He is using all the “poor me sausage” tactics he can. He sends her texts that are filled with blame-shifting, gaslighting and has tried to guilt her into seeing him. He has tried to have me mediate many times. He has even gone through the lawyers and had them try to get me to talk to her. Your STBX and STBXMIL could be doing this too and your daughter doesn’t want to tell you.

    He NEEDS her to like him. It’s impression management. He NEEDS to be loved by her to fuel his self-preservation. “What I did can’t be THAT bad, look my incredible daughter still loves me….”

    Set boundaries. I have told him (alone and through the lawyers) that his relationship with his daughter is theirs and that I will not be part of it. That if I have to choose between him and her, SHE will win EVERY time.

    Let your daughter know that you are grieving, that it’s ok to feel all the feels. That this sucks but you love and support her. Then show her how mighty you are. Rebuild that life. Going to therapy yourself, shows her that it’s ok to do this (mine also refuses to go). Maybe suggest alternative emotional releases such as massage, Reiki, acupuncture, energy chakra healing, meditation, exercise. Encourage her to talk to friends.

    Lawyer up, STD check, meet with your financial planner, accountant, estate planner. Get your ducks in a row and gain your new life. Your daughter is lucky to have such a supportive, loving mom. Hugs to you.

  • Awake at Night,

    You’re in the shattering phase. It’s normal to feel hit upside of the head with a brick now. CL is so right, you now need to shift gears into survival mode and see all this fall-out for what it is. The blood relatives of a cheater often stick together and will waste you right along with the cheater. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Do an about-face, zero in on the practical needs of your future, enlist support until you merge off the entrance lane onto the highway of independence. Don’t look back or revisit the dysfunction you have seen and know leads to destruction.

    As for the cheater appearing to live the “dream” in their newfound oblivion, that stage is temporary and only for a time. Remember, cheaters build from the rotten core premise that entitlement, selfishness, usery, conning, abandonment and ghosting others will bring them peace and happiness. You may never see the outcome of his choice leads him years later. I can promise you it’s nothing you’d admire or desire for yourself. It’s often one miserable pathetic lot in life – well earned at that.

    Go forward learning and growing into a wiser, stronger and better you. This will serve you well as you hone your character, conscience, integrity, courage, and ability to recognize wolves in sheep clothing ahead. Be thankful you’re free of this dead-weight pulling on your life. Cut the rope and never look back. You can do this! We are on your side.

  • Divorced almost 6 years. Last weekend second (and last) daughter got married. Neither girl invited their father to their weddings, very similar situation I see to this OP.
    Happily, XH was not on my mind at all over the weekend. He was not even discussed. Not with anyone that I knew about at the wedding. It was not even weird.
    Bottom line:
    Actions have consequences. Why is it OK (in the cheater’s mind) for everyone else to have to suffer consequences for their actions, except the cheaters?

    Yesterday, after the weekend of events was done, XH sent a card to my daughter to my home address.
    (Hey, Jackass. Wrong address AND wrong last name for that gal.)
    At first I was annoyed. He is not to have any contact or dealings at my home – but agreements and rules are for suckers, right? – rules do not pertain to him. I have never ever contacted him in 5 years – at some point this gets over, right?
    BUT, I guess, whatever. Kind of pathetic this is what he’s up to – Six years later.


    • Yes, I hear you. Actions have consequences.

      We went to a wedding awhile after he left, and both young adults said then that he wouldn’t attend their weddings when the time came. They wanted everyone there to be people that truly cared about them.

      Wow. I just smiled and said, “Your choice.”

      When he kicked off the divorce later, he talked about not walking our daughter down the aisle. I just said that it would be her choice. Truly HER choice.

      It’s been four years since they’ve seen him and since he took off, and he does the same thing. Out of the blue, a card appears. I just pass it on, and they do whatever with it.

    • These are the first fuckwits to scream parental alienation online. Good for your daughter.

  • Yes, cut out ALL Ex-Laws. Do not respond to their emails or texts, better yet, block them. Block their number in your phone.

    Get a Lawyer ASAP and get your settlement and alimony while it’s this year’s tax year, and he has to show the judge tax returns when he was “working his ass off”. If you delay, till when the tax return is lower to him finding “work-life balance”, that impacts YOU and your Daughter! Do not delay!

    • Seconding this comment:

      “Get a Lawyer ASAP and get your settlement and alimony while it’s this year’s tax year, and he has to show the judge tax returns when he was “working his ass off”. If you delay, till when the tax return is lower to him finding “work-life balance”, that impacts YOU and your Daughter! Do not delay!”

      And when you’re at the lawyer’s, remember to tell him/her to go after for the marital assets he’s squandered on his getaways with the OW.

      If he works with her (and she reports to him), threatening to depose her may help you. HR would not look favorably on the boss screwing his subordinate.

      • Also: I know you don’t want to think about this so soon after your mother died, but if you are in line to inherit, protect that money. If you’re in a state in which inherited assets are not considered joint marital property, put it in an account that has your name only on it; don’t put it in a joint account, because then it can be claimed as joint property. If you’re in a state in which inheritances do count as joing marital property, try to delay the payout.

  • Dear Awake,

    All the parenting advice here is great: hold on tight, stay safe, and play the long game. And it is a long game. Like you, I let my kids navigate their relationship with their father and the OW/Wifetress all on their own. I don’t interfere and I don’t talk negativity about them in front of the kids. In fact, like you, I pretty much consider them non topics and keep mention of them in a neutral or professional sense. Like “Dad texted and he’s picking you up at 5:30 instead of 5.” All business, no personal. The kids do know that I have boundaries and they’ve never asked me to change them: for example, their Dad is never allowed in our house and I will never go to meet him anywhere.

    But, the story you told about your ex-mil broke my heart a little. I remember breaking up with my former in-laws too. That hurt. We lose so much more than a cheating spouse when the FW skips off into the sunset; we lose family and friends as well.

    My former in-laws seemingly loved me. Well, I’m sure they did love me. We were close. When FW had his first affair they were furious with him and rallied to my side. They helped me and the kids get set up in our new little place. They hated his new girlfriend and we talked on the phone a lot, like A LOT during that phase. I spilled my sobbing guts out to my ex-FIL on an almost nightly basis. I really regret doing that now. FW cycled through another GF, we “reconciled,” and then he found GF#3/Wifetress, packed his bags, and left again. While this last D-Day wasn’t the shock that the first one was, my heart shattered all the same.

    I was prepared for a similar experience with my in-laws, who, in our last interaction told me that I would “always be like a daughter to them,” but I was in for a surprise: they supported their son’s affair with GF#3. They took out FW, GF#3, our kids, and her kid out on a fancy 2 week vacation while I was still married to their son! To a place they knew I would have loved to go. Everyone assembled a new family unit with me conveniently and objectively cropped out. I was heartbroken and that killed the last attachment I had to their surname. I changed my last name back to my maiden name and changed the kids’ last name to mine as well, which I could do as I had full custody (something FW signed off on right away so he could move into GF#3’s house all the quicker). GF#3’s kid spends entire summers with my former in-laws. I went NC with my former in-laws (not maliciously, just to keep my emotional sanity intact). The last time I had to interact with with them was to pick up my kids from their place (unavoidable scheduling snafu) and they excitedly wanted to show me their new house as our interactions are far and few between. I couldn’t get past the living room: they had large, framed portraits of FW and GF#3/Wifetress hanging up on nearly every wall! I felt nauseous. I relapsed for weeks after that visit which felt like it had undone years of personal growth and boundary setting.

    A cheater does what a cheater does, there’s no sorting that out. However, the cheater’s parents backing this decision to the extent that they did broke my heart in a different way: we have totally and completely replaced you. Thanks for your womb and the access to the kids. Oh, and why haven’t you gotten over it? We all have.

    Now, I should mention that I am not angry at my ex in-laws. I understand their position. They can be upset at their FW son all they want but, in the end, he’s their son and I’m not. No matter his behaviour they will back him up: they want access to him, their child, and through him, their grandchildren. They can spin me any stories they like but their loyalty is to family and–as much as it hurt me to know it–I’m not family anymore. Their son is. His new partner is.

    Losing in-laws who side with their cheater offspring and the APs is a different kind of loss but it’s one many of us go through. It sucks because for many of us, they were family for a long time. I wish them no ill will. I even understand their position. But I won’t stick around to be continually hurt by them.

    Awake, your EX-H is gone and his mother, unsurprisingly, has put her loyalty in his corner. It is what it is. You may have to add another person to your No Contact list, I suspect, because nothing your EX-MIL will do now will help you out.

    • “I couldn’t get past the living room: they had large, framed portraits of FW and GF#3/Wifetress hanging up on nearly every wall!”

      I’m so sorry.

      It’s one thing to grudgingly accept the new woman and dismiss the old appliance, but sanctioning it in such a flagrant way is disturbing. I guess it’s all part of making themselves feel better about their son’s crappy character. It can’t be bad if we have massive portraits.

      • I completely agree Spinach. It’s one thing to be accepting of a cheating partner ( because the parents are ageing and they will want support from their child, they will want to see their child, they will want to see their grandchildren etc). … It’s another thing to lay it on heavy – especially when they know that the chumped partner will be witness to this over-the-top welcoming of the new cheater replacement. I wonder where their cheater child learned to have no empathy?

    • I’m sorry that you went through that.

      After my ex had his new place set up, his entire family came to visit, and he called me wanting recipes so he could feed them. Still taking hopium as I was, I complied and even answered texts with questions as he was cooking.

      My youngest saw me doing that and asked what was going on. I explained.

      She cried and said, “So they’re having a big party to celebrate that he left and has a new life.” She ran out of the room.

      In retrospect, I see just how cruel that was to us. The “now” me would have said so and told him to figure out the roast himself.

      And no, I didn’t stick around. Some months after that, I had lunch with the oldest brother and his wife who were in town. I was frank about my perceptions of the situation, and ultimately told them to focus on my now-ex and that we’d find our own way. They clearly had circled the wagons around my ex and were making him a victim, and I just let that go.

      • How awful for you and your daughter! The thoughtlessness of fws not just towards the abandoned spouse, but towards their own children, never fails to enrage me.

    • Oy, Fourleaf! This resonated with me. In-laws, FW and AP (my former friend) are on a vacation together as we speak. It’s still sickens me despite being 3 years past DD and quite happy with my life. Teenage kids would never vacation with those four adults though—ever. So, I guess there is that. Thank you for your insightful timely perspective!

      • “Teenage kids would never vacation with those four adults though—ever. So, I guess there is that.”

        That’s huge. That’s everything.

        The kids have a certain clarity about things that we chumps lack. I was so blind to the abuse. It wasn’t just the affair; it was my ex’s general treatment of all of us. It blows my mind that I was swallowing shit sandwiches whole, like a drug mule, but had no idea. Talk about mind tricks. I actually thought I had a good marriage. For me, the shit sandwich was a tasty amuse-bouche.

        All three adult kids are NC with their dad. He’s never met his second grandchild. The first he last saw 2 years ago when she was an infant.

        Shortly after Dday, my ex wrote: “It will cut me to the core if you date someone else, and he becomes the grandfather.” Alas, he should have thought about that before fucking around and treating me and the kids like dirt. There’s so much he should have thought of. Whatever consequences have come his way, he’s earned.

        • “Shortly after Dday, my ex wrote: “It will cut me to the core if you date someone else, and he becomes the grandfather.””

          Mine played that “what’s good for the gander is not allowed for the goose” card too. Before he drove off into the sunset, he sat me down to explain that GF#3’s stepfather abused her and that he has nightmares about me dating someone and acquiring a stepfather for out children because he’s terrified that that hypothetical man would abuse our children. He was–literally!–sobbing while he confessed this nightmare of his to me.

          I was still stunned, shattered, and wanting to please him no matter what, so I assured him that I could never see myself being in a relationship with anyone else. Satisfied, he got in his car and drove off to GF#3’s house.

          Years later (it took me awhile!), I was able to look back and feel rage over that conversation. It was so gross and manipulative. He was permitted to partner up with someone else but I wasn’t. And if I did partner up with someone else that would make me a bad person because stepfathers aren’t bad people. Except him, of course. He’s a great stepfather to GF#3’s kid, so the stepfather example doesn’t apply to him. So. Don’t find another man, okay? Because that will make you a bad mother.

          Anyone who knows me knows I’m a pretty lowkey person who is more prone to tears than to anger. But I think back to that parting “I have nightmares about you marrying again because GF#3 was abused by her stepdad and I’m scared history will repeat” speech and I seethe. I honestly seethe. Talk about the scorched earth policy. He came, he destroyed, and then he salted the fields so nothing else would grow before he left.

          He kind of got what he wanted. I have had no interest in dating or ever uttering the words “Kids, meet Mom’s new boyfriend” but it’s mostly because I simply am unwilling, right now, to ever trust someone again. And I hate it when people fling those “Don’t close your heart off to love” platitudes in my direction. I am not ready to even consider that and I’m pretty upfront about it. Too much damage was done in the name of love. My focus now is family and career and, between those, I thrive and am happy.

          • 4th paragraph typo: I meant to type “are” instead of “aren’t.” The implication FW was making to me was that stepfathers (except for him) are bad people, so he hoped I wouldn’t date again.

          • Totally agree. I have closed my heart off to protect it until it heals. It’s a necessity IMO. Whether it ever heals enough to allow somebody new in, who knows. I hate being told I should learn to trust again. I’m not ready, I may never be, and I don’t much care at this point.

            • “I hate being told I should learn to trust again.”

              Ditto. I trusted with my whole heart and was, several times, blindsided. I feel like the chances of it happening again just aren’t worth the risk.

        • “For me, the shit sandwich was a tasty amuse-bouche.”

          This is both sad (the situation) and very clever (the phrase).

    • Sorry to hear that Fourleaf. Your story reminds me of my own. I also lost my IL, even though I thought we were close, and it hurts. When my FW left us, they were mad at him, even though they didn’t know why. They told me I’d always be welcome. Fast forward a couple of years now that OW is official girlfriend (never mind that the ink on divorce paper is not even dry yet) I rarely hear from them and never get invited to family events. I get it, blood relatives do what they have to do. I still want my kids to have grandparents. That sucks. But I will keep on making my own tribe and model what I think a, relatively, healthy family means. It is a long game indeed.

  • MIL is not your friend and quite frankly I think she is really enjoying this whole shit show. Even if she is happy that her son is with someone else you don’t kick someone when their down as she is kicking you. She’s not a nice person. Please go no contact immediately with mommy dearest and get a freaking attorney today. You don’t need to be in contact with your cheater ex either. Let him sort out the mail, bills and daughter.

  • AAN:

    Shattered. Betrayed. Resilient. Forceful. The Sane One. MOM.

    Get thee to a doctor for STD test and anxiety meds (yep, it is totally worth it), a lawyer (asap, he’s lost in his twu luv and if you file first, you take back your life on your terms) and a therapist (see one and two).

    This part sucks. My youngest do not want to see dad most of the time and when I push due to court orders, it is not more than an occasional weekend overnight. My kids have not been told about AP1-3; they just trust their experiences that he sucks. They also trust that I am done with the abuse, on all levels.

    Your daughter is grieving. Look at what she’s experienced in the last 24 months.
    (High school (!!), pandemic, FW destroying her reality, etc….) Show her how adults (not FW) behave; show up, listen up, impose consequences and be the ONE SANE PERSON in her life. I promise in 90 days you will be amazed at how far you both have come.

    And NC that FW MIL. Fuck her. She don’t know you.

  • Dear Awake at Night,

    Five years ago, I was you, nearly word for word, except married 25 years and two teenagers at home. FW is now 59 and married to the 33 year old. Our daughter still doesn’t speak to him aside from a text at Christmas. I’ll echo what CL said, you’re going to have to be the tough parent for her at this time. You can’t control how she feels about her dad but you can give her a safe place to land.

    My dday was in 2016, and just last month my 24 year old son agreed to meet his father for coffee. He hadn’t spoken to him since he left us a few months after dday. My son said he has gotten ridiculous tattoos and piercings and looks shrunken and old. He said the biggest thing he felt for him was pity.

    My MIL called me and apologized when she found out what happened, however, she never contacted me again after that. The entire family accepted the new wife with open arms and it’s like my kids and I never existed. That hurt some, but they are his family. My kids’ too, but that doesn’t matter apparently.

    All in all, we are MUCH happier without the FW. We used to have to walk on eggshells around him because we never knew when he’d explode over some dumb thing.

    It will get better for you and your sweet daughter. Get her some counseling, stay strong Mama, it’s a tough tough road but you will be ok.

    • Wow, thanks for sharing your story. I am so grateful for all your advise and insights.

  • Everyone is giving great advice. Be the sane parent for your daughter. Go No Contact! Ignore him and his freaking family. You need time to grieve the loss of your marriage and process the whole thing. My Ex of 25 years walked away from me and our 3 kids to live in his dead parents house and party with one of his friends who was divorcing his wife (that guy quickly remarried). Our now 21 year old daughter has cut Ex out of her life. She actually went to court two weeks ago to legally change her middle and last name. Dropped his mom’s name (was her middle name) and Ex’s last name! Took my maiden name as her last name. My younger two have had a harder time but they know what their dad did and who destroyed our intact family. Now we are a family of 4 plus a dog! Good luck to you!

  • dear awake at night,

    i am often awake at night. it’s an age-and-stage thing (menopause), but i do a fair amount of worrying/wondering at 3 a.m.

    i’m 9 months into a separation and my alcoholic X has dropped the kids, too. it’s painful to watch but you have to let it play out. and be there for the kids. i have 2 kids and watched them dangle for awhile before suggesting family therapy for the 3 of us–i would not invite my X into family therapy as i am parenting my kids, no co-parenting. he’s not capable. anyway, we started at the therapist with a discussion of strategies of how to deal with alcoholic parent and what he’s doing–drinking in front my daughter (an alcoholic in recovery) and encouraging my son to drink alongside.

    i attended family therapy for one session and left the kids to continue on by themselves. that’s a strategy to get them started, right? now the kids are talking about their feelings around our family imploding, and it’s much better.

    i wonder if you might consider attending a political event alongside your daughter? i mean, why not? spend time with her that way? aren’t you curious what they’re saying and doing? and set and enforce a curfew with her alongside.

    as for your MIL, i’m sorry. i think that, with time, you will likely fully realize the extent that narcissism runs in his family–you will remember other instances where MIL said and did dumb-ass things. it’s VERY CLEAR to me now that my X’s family is toxic; i mean, i kinda knew they were enmeshed but attributed it to “European parents as new immigrants and a bit of a language barrier”, etc. etc. but they spoiled my X and, frankly, favoured him over his older sister, pitting their 2 kids together for their entire lives. that’s a classic narcissistic move if i ever saw one.

    i have no contact with in-laws.

    good luck with your lawyer.

    • Dear damnitfeelsbadtobeachumpster, good idea, I already joined her to a couple of political events before COVID. I’ll join her again soon. We bond over cooking and every day life at present and watching a Netflix movie once a month. (our movie preferences are a bit “differential”. lol.)

  • Children see their parents as role models for their future world. It does not seem to matter whether or not the parents are appropriate role models, or even whether the parents are out of step with the rest of the people in the children (and their friends) world. Parents just loom large because they are present in the child’s life.

    I had a dysfunctional father. My Ex’s had dysfunctional mothers. It doesn’t take a highly educated shrink to connect the dots in my dysfunctional relationships. I modeled my behavior on my mother, even though the (relatively) sane part of my brain realized that her life was full of dysfunction and contradiction due to her FOO upbringing. I forgave my Ex’s many things because they had never received the type of love a good mother can provide. Their father’s were bad role models, too. It is interesting to me that their fathers were absent a great deal of time in their lives due to being “at work” and I was accustomed to being the available and reliable parent as part of my FOO training. I believe part of the attraction my Ex’s found to me early on in the relationship was due to the fact I was a good mother. But each of them wanted to be the ONLY child. They did not see that I could not be a good mother to my son’s if I prioritized the care and handling of a grown man over the care and handling of my young dependent children. It is like being drawn and quartered, daily, and there is no help coming from either set of grandparents. My mother did assist in some daily care for my children at times when I needed help to parent and keep my job at the same time. My Ex’s never participated in any childcare duties, or household duties. The boys dad did provide income. The love bomber only provided unwanted distraction and drama.

    If a mother, or MIL, only see’s their child’s life as a series of accomplishments which reflect well on them, then they just don’t get it and never will. I made many unpopular decisions for my sons when I was competing with Fun Dad during their teen years. Teens are not particularly concerned with long term planning, consequences or character — at that point in their lives it is all about having fun. Fun Dad may have embarrassed them, and they didn’t seem to like any of his inappropriate dates du jour, but it took them a few years to understand the lack of character their dad had displayed. In the meantime I kept them in school, making good grades, hauled them to practices, games, and concerts, did the laundry, cleaned the house, paid the bills, and kept a roof over their heads. Not glamorous. Not FUN, But stability provides rewards in the long run, and appreciation of stability comes when you launch out into an unstable world as a fledgling adult. When you come to the place you are living, and there is no food, or toilet paper, and you have an electric bill due before you get paid, you remember a time when all that security was a part of your life, and you figure out who provided that security.

    If you choose to have children, your life changes. It is not about taking care of yourself anymore. You face almost 20 years of taking care of you and your children, and even after they leave you worry and assist in their lives. If you are the sane parent, this is the choice you have made. If you breed with a FW, this is the choice you made, even if you did not know it at the time. You cannot count on “friends” or extended family for support, but if you do receive assistance, be grateful! You have to take care of yourself to be able to be a sane and available parent. It is not a Fun job, but it does have its long term rewards. I don’t regret the hard times I had to get through with my children, because now I have two grown sons who have a good work ethic, and character, and a heart. There is a comfort in being able to survive adversity. and come out on the other side relatively unscathed. It is not an easy choice, but it is a rewarding one. My son’s still talk to their dad, on occasion, but I talk to them every week , and they seek advise when they have a problem. I think that means they realize now the value of what I did then.

    I wish anyone setting out on this type of venture good luck and good health. You will need both to be the sane parent!

  • Oh my, that’s a new one. I would cut off the MIL or at least keep her at arm’s length. If she talks about the new love interest, I would say, “I don’t need to hear this. Is there something else we can talk about?”

    My aunt (now in her mid-80’s) was divorced twice in her twenties from adulterers and then married a true gem that is still making her happy. She told me when we separated that I would need to prepare to lose or at least barely be in contact with his entire large family. I didn’t believe her.

    She was right. Just weeks after he took off, it was clear that they were ripping into every aspect of our relationship and finding fault with me on every front. They even discussed our sex life in detail. He made himself a victim big time and was not taking responsibility. It was ironic because they are “the man is the head of the house” types, and my ex basically threw that off and by default put me in charge by taking off. He was only responsible for himself, and I had to figure out everything else without him including how to keep two distraught college students on track and all the explanations to friends.

    I related that situation to my aunt, and she commented that if I was thinking that we might reconcile, it would be agony ever being around them again. Imagine sitting at the dinner table with his relatives who know all about the marital dirt. So much for leaving and cleaving. Arg! I had to agree. She offered to pay for a therapist but said not to share details until we were headed for divorce because she had made a lifetime practice of not getting into other people’s marriages too far out of respect for the marriage itself.

    As I related, both kids were in college. They commuted locally. They both had their own cell phones, own email accounts, and were at college or work all day. And somehow I alienated them so he couldn’t keep in touch. Like AwakeAtNight, they did NOT want to discuss him with me. They didn’t talk about their childhoods or anything related to him AT ALL. Any discussion about calling him resulted in them leaving the room (I knew from that they were talking to each other at least).

    I asked the therapist what to do, and she told me to affirm my love for them in every way possible and let the chips fall where they may. She said to do things with my own friends and have my own life. One was still some months under 18, but he never pursued visitation. I offered both of them therapy, no questions asked, and they both went. Every time I talked to him on the phone he asked about them, but the reality is that he made almost no effort and then blamed me for their lack of response the few times he did contact them. He missed birthdays, Christmas, and graduations. And yet I alienated them.

    Four years later, they still don’t like to talk about him, so I don’t unless it’s in a positive context from the past. He hasn’t seen them face-to-face in all that time. A few emails/cards/texts, and that’s it. We struggled financially (of course), and the divorce was a long mess (of course). I kept them out of the details, but they knew that he was burning every bridge on the way out with me. They didn’t like that.

    As both my therapist and my attorney said many times, he tried to burn down the house on us. That’s on him. Thankfully we got out.

    • Thanks Elsie to share your story. This gives me hope to do the right thing, not to push my daughter and give her time and space to figure things out. Thankfully she has a couple of very close friends she’s talking to.

  • My situation wasn’t quite the same with the MIL. I was totally delusional in thinking that after 21 years of marriage my now XH’s family would somehow be on “my” side. After XH finally moved out and word got around that XH was screwing the neighbor I got nothing. No calls, no emails, no what happened, no I’m so sorry he did this to you from any of his family. Nothing. It was heartbreaking at the time. These people were like my blood family. I was best friends with XH’s sister and my in-laws treated me like their own daughter. My mother-in-law finally called me a year after the divorce to tell me how sorry she was. I was polite but didn’t chat or talk long. It was still to painful at the time.
    My own mother was the one who pointed out that blood was thicker than water and I was going to get pushed aside by these people. 1-1/2 years after the divorce xmother-in-law passed away. I sent flowers and it hurt that I couldn’t bring myself to attend the funeral. 5-1/2 years later and I know nothing about any of these people and I don’t care anymore. They are like strangers to me.

    • I wonder if these in-laws also feel ashamed of their offspring’s behavior. They can’t face the chumps because it’s a reminder of some failure on their part. They tap dance to make it all better, but deep down they know their kiddo effed up.

      I derive some pleasure from thinking about my ex and his OW’s parents. Both my ex and the OW cheated on their spouses. Because my ex is so much older than the OW, he’s closer in age to her dad. Awkward! The elephant in the room is that these people got together in a less-than-savory way. Imagine eating Thanksgiving dinner with them and pretending this is all perfectly normal, which they must do.

      As I see it, these people are stuck with each other.

      • Yes, I think shame is a big factor. If they handle that sort of thing in an unhealthy way, you are going to get strange work-arounds.

        I shared his relative’s reactions with my therapist and my attorney, and they both had a few choice comments. My therapist is in her 70’s. and my attorney was in his late 60’s, so they had both seen a lot. Both said to put up a high wall there.

  • I just had an ugly cry in my car. Similarities… just when i think I’m meh it comes back. My daughter was older but the abandonment hurts no matter what age they are. I screamed at God while I walked dogs( a job that seemed to be dropped in my lap just for that purpose). It was 34 years. It takes time but you will get through it. All the practical advise is spot on. Get the lawyer to help impose those consequences. We’re here too.

  • Awake at night. It sounds like you haven’t even filed for divorce? Please do that immediately! I am worried you are hoping this relationship will run its course and he will come to his senses? No! Even if it goes belly up you be done with him! Don’t even consider letting him come back. Please get to a lawyer and a financial forsenic accountant on this money. Sounds like he is a high earner and cut down his hours to screw you out of your money. Those 5 star hotels and vacations are your martial assets! Gather all your financials and get to a lawyer! He possibly has accounts you don’t know about. Cut off this MIL and I hope you have not told her anything. She doesn’t give a dam about you and cannot be trusted. Tell her nothing because she will help him.she is a POS to say those things to you. Your daughter is an adult and it is her choice. Continue to not interfere regarding him. Your priority now is to dry those tears, get angry and get your ass to a lawyer so he doesn’t completely wipe you out.

    • Dear Gentle Reader, yes, I got a lawyer and a financial forsenic in place. They are working on it. I am mad as hell.

      • Good to hear that. Mad as hell is the way to ride this pony. Keep your intentions on the down low. Loose lips sink ships.

        Smile sweetly, as it’s a game to them and you may as well play it to your advantage.

        Kick the ass and the enablers to the curb. Leave them in the rearview.

        Best wishes.

  • This is similar to my experience with my adult children. They immediately cut me out. They told me how happy he was now, how great his new sex life is, etc. and I needed to get over it. Why would I not want him to be happy?

    I’ve been in counseling 18 months now over this and it’s been very, very painful. After months of me asking, pleading, screaming, explaining, working with the counselor to prepare sentences…….they have always chosen to not hear me. They clipped me out of the “wife appliance” family portrait and pasted Schmoopie’s ugly mug in. Only the grandchildren are confused and my adult children keep me at arm’s length from the grandchildren so they can control the messaging.

    Apparently everyone is happy. Everyone has moved on. They pity me that I wasn’t able to fill my new role of an outsider in the family I gave birth to, but they have “boundaries” and I need to be kept out unless I learn how to act appropriately. After all, he did always tell them I was crazy and how difficult it was for him to be married to me (while I carried 95% of the marriage for 40 fucking years!) because I was irrational. (As you in CN all know, that “irrational” behavior was me….trying to speak up, trying to stand up for myself, trying to get him to talk to me or love me or help fix our marriage, or at least quit kicking me down.)

    OMG – I never in a million years imagined this could be my life. Lots of screaming at the prairie because I have very few trees to listen. I’m thankful there are daily CL posts and all of you to listen.

    • I am so sorry for the pain you are feeling.

      I think if my adult son had told me how great his dads sex life is, I would have had to throw a punch. That is just ooky.

      I know adult kids get hurt, but they are adults and they should have some compassion. I hope your kids see the light and see your pain at some point.

      My hope for you is for you to get through this and build an amazing life on your own. You can, and I think you will.

    • Tallgrass,
      I am so sorry things have gone this way for you. It is the cruelest part of the whole story – when the kids cut you out.
      Cruel and unfair. I hope things get better for you. ((((Hugs))))

    • Good grief, that is terrible. He talks to his kids about how much fun he has fucking the OW, and they relay that info to you? That is a vile man, and unfortunately, the kids seem to have modeled themselves after him and are emotionally abusive. One of my kids did that as well. We no longer even speak and I have no access to my grandkids. At this point though, even grandkids are not worth dealing with that level of toxicity. It’s unfair and horrible, but it sounds like you may have to go NC with them for the sake of your emotional health.

  • Tallgrass,
    I too lost 2 adult children in the divorce. My ex told everyone ( including my children ) that I am the cheater. I apparently have a new grandchild I have never seen. My oldest son and his family cut the rest of them out. It’s painful. But don’t waste anymore of your time on this hill. They’ll either figure it out, or they won’t. I’m at the point now, 5 years out. That it’s too late for them with me. I deserve a peaceful life.

    • thank you, anuthatch, for your response. I am at that point now too, where I deserve peace.

      It rips my heart out to say this. But, we have gotten to the point, as you did, that it does not matter now whether they ever figure it out. It is something they will need to hire their own counselors to work through. The way they have been able to treat me, their actions, repeatedly, while I am telling them the pain they are causing me – speaks much louder than any future words of apology. It’s something that can’t be unseen. Trust has been obliterated. And I would never choose to re-start a new relationship with someone who holds those core values that allowed this to happen. Somehow, they developed lousy character. That causes me much shame and guilt. I can’t believe I gave up decades of my life to be with them at great cost to myself.

    • You absolutely deserve peace! My STBX spent years making up a fake cheating story about me when the whole time he was the cheater. He told everyone in his family that I was cheating. I was confused and did everything prove that I wasn’t. I was so stupid not to see it. He literally invented a relationship for me to throw me off because if I was defending myself, I wasn’t watching what he was doing. My kid is confused and has lingering doubts about me. This is why toxic narcissist parents who try to alienate kids with lies cannot be trusted to be around them. There will be no co-parenting with me! I will take classes and fake it for court if I have to but this asshat will not come between me and my kid.

    • This, completely. If they don’t get it it’s because they are self-serving and it’s more convenient for them to believe the lie. That makes them hazardous to your mental health. My cheater positive adult child who was cruel to me has been disowned by my extended family as well. So she has lost everybody except the cheater since my mother, the last holdout, has passed away. Fuckwit offers nothing of substance and she can’t even hit him up for money now that my income isn’t in play anymore. She miscalculated badly on that one. Our kids may regret it one day, but as you say, it’s too late.

  • What a sneaky MIL. She’s like an enemy spy. I’d let her know, in a polite but firm letter, that in order to take care of my life, she will be on the NC list!
    She knows you didn’t want, weren’t expecting, to be facing divorce, so she’s cozying up to you as if she cares. All she cares about is her perfect and speshul baby boy!!! Don’t fall for it any more!
    You sound pretty grounded, and once you take CL’s great advice, you will be solid, and moving forward.
    Your daughter is about the age I was, when my dad ditched our family, it’s hard. Really made me question life, and loyalties. Sending love to her, at least she has you!

    • Why do you say be polite. I think I have a very firm fuck you is what she needs to say if the woman calls her again. If you recognize the number just don’t answer the phone. If she leaves you a voicemail delete it without listening to it. You owe her absolutely nothing and she’s rubbing salt in your wound because she’s an asshole.

    • Oh, I always tried to take the high road. I was very abused by my X and his crazy AP, but it gave me a good feeling to never sink to their gutter level. So, just personal choice! Anyone who wants to launch FU on the MIL, go ahead, that’s your choice, but my style is to rise above them. I think it’s part of my survival mode. I also hope that it holds up a mirror to badly behaving nuts, but that’s probably not realistic.

  • My college-aged daughter decided to have no part of her father’s foolishness, and no part of him either. Next birthday she’ll be thirty, and he is still on the no contact list.

    He had a medical emergency, and tried to put her down as his health care proxy. No response. Full silent mode. I mean, she does live on another continent. Also? He’s not part of her life, due to his choices. Call the waaaambulance!

    I believe what has happened in his life is called, “fuck around and find out.”

  • Awake at night,
    I feel for your daughter. Her life has just blown through no fault on her part (thanks fuckwit), and how she copes with this must feel daunting to her. If she’s open to therapy, reassure her that the therapist is for HER only. My ex and first wife went through a custody battle and the ex wife put my stepkids into therapy and proceeded to basically guide the theraapy so that she could use the notes in court. The kids found out later and refused to ever go back to therapy until they were adults. Your daughter needs to know that she can share and it will go no further than the office. It’s hard to say what her father has been telling her. It’s still her choice but you can kindly put it out there for her as a safety net.

    As others have stated, No Contact is your friend. I found CL shortly after the divorce was filed and I had discovered the cheating. I deleted and blocked the ex, his family and any flying monkeys within two months. You don’t need his family in your new life – they will give you more pain and that the last thing you need from them.

  • I think unloading your feelings on your kids and asking them to shoulder your emotional burdens is horrible but at the same time, I think that what you’re doing, AwakeAtNight, is the opposite extreme… you’re so intent on holding it together and not speaking ill of your ex that your daughter feels very alone in her pain and probably doesn’t feel like her feelings are validated.

    It would be wrong to tell your daughter that your husband is a demon that deserves to rot in Hell threaten to cut her out of your life if she ever speaks to him again. But telling your daughter that her father’s abandonment is cruel and dishonorable that her anger is completely justified is simply the honest truth.

    Also, the fact that you’re letting her run off into the night inadvertently sends the message that both her parents are self absorbed and neither one of them cares enough about her well being to set limits on her behavior. Besides, I think you would much rather prefer to know that’s stewing in the next room hating your guts with music blasting through the walls then home alone grieving because you don’t know where she is or that you didn’t push back on reckless behavior that ultimately caused her harm.

    Also, last thing that you want to happen is for your daughter to come under the influence of a predatory person– perhaps an adult but even a peer– who gains entry into her heart and mind via the gaping Dad-sized void in her life. Your daughter may not be talking to you right now but I guarantee you that she’s confiding in someone.

    Finally, are their any other adults that you can enlist for support? Does she have an aunt, cousin, close family friend, teacher, or coach with whom she feels close or at least trusts and respects? There’s no guarantee that this person will be able to get through to her, but maybe someone who has a bit more emotional distance from your situation will be able to give her some guidance or at least an objective ear.

    • Thanks Lulu, I was sound asleep when she first ran off. So next time I was awake at night and was able to talk her out of it. We talked about boundaries, trust and that I am there for her, no matter what. I hope she got the message.

  • Ugh, the cascade of loss and injustice that happens during this time feels awful. Not only the cheater and the marriage, but all the in-laws or friends that side with them. Best to you. I know it seems like hollow lip service, but it’s good to find out this stuff now, shed these people and go for a better life in the future. It does not make the pain of this any better at the moment.

  • I haven’t read all the comments and maybe this is a duplicate, but if anybody starts telling you to make your daughter do XYZ for someone else’s benefit, you tell that person to talk to your daughter. If she’s over 18 that should be a conversation between adults. Let Gramma have her own conversations with your adult daughter. This particular Gramma will probably end up like my former mother-in-law who my kids went no-contact with. She is just as toxic as their sperm donor.

    And I don’t care how long you’ve had a relationship with the ex’s mother. She only cares about his happiness, and is probably a contributing factor to his narcissism. No contact is your best friend when it comes to those people.

    As far as parenting goes….the hardest stage is from age 18 to around 25 when the brain finishes forming. I have no advice even though I have five children who are now 25+.

  • My daughter, 16 when he left, woudn’t talk to the ex either. Frankly? I admire her for that. Still do. It’s more than I was able to accomplish. My daughter ADORED her father, too.

    Later, my ex told me I’d “poisoned” my daughter’s mind against him. This, after I tried and tried to get her to contact him. Hell, I told HIM she’d talk to him if he apologized for his behavior. Which he would not, so….hopefully losing his daughter was worth that to him? Eventually I told him that anyone who honestly believed I could poison his daughter’s mind against him had never met our daughter, who thinks for herself. He poisoned his daughter’s mind against him by his behavior.

    Then, later on, he decided he didn’t want to pay for her college any more, despite the fact that I waived all alimony etc in favor of that. Because if she won’t talk to him, the court agreement about his paying is null and void? What a joke. I took him to court and I won.

    I was more than fair with my ex and our daughter–more because I worried she’d regret it later than because I felt bad for my ex–and of course, I’m the crazy, mean ex-wife. Sexism always rears its ugly head.

    • I, too, was accused of poisoning our adult kids. As my daughter (a professional woman in her 30s) put it, “I have a brain.”

      I’m not sure this is sexism though. I think it’s just run-of-the-mill cheater behavior.????????‍♀️

    • OMG Rose, exactly the same situation here. My daughter is very strong minded and she absolutely adored her dad! But the day he left, she cut him out. I tried to mediate in the beginning, but now feel it’s much too early and puts her under too much pressure.

      • When they cheated, they fired us from the job of mediating anything.

        p.s. I’m not sure I should have ever mediated a thing even while we were married, but I did. It was actually more like running interference. “He means well!” Spackle, spackle, spackle. Fuck that!

      • Yup, sweetie, that’s why I posted. Been there and did that.

        My daughter basically, by not talking to her father, cut herself off from half her family, since they won’t talk to her if she won’t talk to him. Siiiiiigh.

        I have had a rapprochment with my former MIL lately, who I loved, who is old and sick and wanted to talk to me. I’ve been thinking about asking her to contact my daughter, who misses her….and I just don’t know, people. Of course she sided with her son, etc. But she is 80 now and not in great health and I wonder if I should try to get her together with my girl, who, admittedly, is a 24 year old adult.

        I wish I knew what the kind thing is and how much I should stick myself out for my daughter (endlessly) and or my ex’s family (they made their choice and it wasn’t my children).

        • Respect your adult daughter’s decision. If your daughter wanted to know she would be contacting the ex inlaws herself.

        • Your daughter cut off contact with her father for good reason. If his family doesn’t see her side, there is something off. They can still be in contact and even support cheater but to cut off your daughter speaks volumes about their character. I wouldn’t push or beg MIL to contact her granddaughter. Think about it…MIL sided with her son because of blood but she easily discarded her own granddaughter? She’s not a good person.

  • So sorry that you got betrayed twice, Awake. Once by STBXH and then by your MIL. Apparently her crazy was hidden for 30 years
    It’s tough being the sane parent. One piece of good advice I got post Dday was “he is responsible for his relationship with the kids.” Thank God for that advice. It clearly set a boundary and I was free, on my side of the fence, to attend to the attorneys, the finances, and my future without FW.
    Kudos to you for not talking bad about your STBXH to your daughter. Find friends who you can share with, or relatives, so you can be connected to someone through all the upheaval. After many events, I just had to talk with someone who could listen and give some feedback to me. A “DivorceCare” group was good for me at one point. I also did a lot of yelling and swearing in my car.

    • Yes, I don’t think that anyone told me, but I got it pretty early on that I had to focus on my relationship with them and leave him out of it. He was many states away doing his own thing, and I was it when they had all the college kids ups-and-downs. They desperately needed a sane parent who was asking about grades, drinking, sex, and friends. It was pretty scary at times doing that alone, but they both came through it. They were commuter students, so I was more aware than some and had “house rules” for them.

  • PSA to all ex-in-laws who might linger here:

    1. Don’t blame the chump.

    2. You’ll hear stories from someone (your kid) who, let’s face it, lies. Give the chump the benefit of the doubt. Your kid may argue (as mine does) that he/she only lied about one thing. Do you really believe that?

    3. Don’t violate boundaries. Honor the chump’s need for distance and even NC.

    4. Don’t send the chump bible verses or tell him/her to forgive. (Ok, this is for my own ex-MIL)

    5. Don’t, under any circumstances, tell the chump that your kid is now happier than ever or has the best sex. That’s both cruel and gross. Boundaries!

    6. If you do have contact with the chump, tell them that they are missed and can’t be replaced. Tell them you understand that the betrayal is unforgivable. You’d like a relationship but understand if that can’t happen.

    7. Treat the chump with respect.

    8. Understand that the chump is grieving because of something your kid did.

    I would think that some ex-in-laws are grieving, too, and they may feel ashamed.

    My ex-MIL probably misses me…or doesn’t. I don’t really care. She met with and embraced the OW mere weeks after D-Day and, even then, pressed me to forgive. Oh FFS! The queen of no empathy!

    By the way, that I’m now NC with her and her son (so mean of me!!!) somehow justifies his cheating. I think the logic goes something like this: Spinach is mean; she deserved it.

    • Good list.

      “Your kid may argue (as mine does) that he/she only lied about one thing. Do you really believe that?”

      The cheater in most cases also lied to his/her family. In many cases like in my mil’s case she made life changing decision based on what she thought was a solid marriage between fw and me. I have sympathy for her for that, because I also made many many life changes based on his lies.

      This stuff is evil and abusive beyond belief.

  • The mother in law is a sick, perverted psychopath. She’s gushing about her son’s sex life and what he’s doing with his penis and she doesn’t give a flying fuck about her own granddaughter.

    People need to stop trying to be non judgmental, that’s gone way the fuck too far. This woman is obsessed with her son’s orgasms and doesn’t care about her granddaughter’s mental health AT ALL. She’s a sick freak and should be totally removed from the lives of all decent people. Ostracize these people. When they show you who they are believe them, and fucking run like hell from them.

    That was my biggest mistake in life. Trying not to judge people. I look back on things said by “friends” and “family” that bothered the hell out of me at the time but I tried to be the bigger person. I should have gone scorched Earth over it. I would have been better off. I had warning they were bad people but I tried to treat them with love and grace. Huge, huge, huge, huge, huge fucking mistake. I should have run.

    • Agreed. I would have had to cut anyone out of my life who had the audacity to brag on fws sex life. How crude and sick.

      It is beyond infuriating when they say something like well we all have faults. I mean that is blame shifting and it is wrong, but commenting on sex, especially a mother/father or a son or daughter. No just no.

      • ???? ???? ???? here too. I did the same as Katie. I tried to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but often allowed that benefit to run on too long in disregard of the red flags flying. We do need to be appropriately judgemental to honour our own values.

        I was dumped cruelly by in-laws, after 26 years of standing up for them, particularly the mother, when their son treated them exactly the same way as he treated me during the discard. I reached out when I felt able 9 months out and received an unpleasant letter written by the father. I was blamed for the failure of contact. Four months out, the Christmas after I was dumped, and only 1 month after I discovered the affair of 10 years plus, and 6 months after my father’s death, my widowed mother and I failed to send them Christmas cards. They sent us cards, first contact of any kind since the dumping and first contact with me since my father’s death just before the dumping. We failed to respond. My card was from a mental health charity (ex ran story that I was crazy and he had endured so much for 26 years). It was written ‘to’ and ‘from’ using their full names rather than the nicknames I had always known them by. It was cold and unkind. And deliberately so. It was intended to hurt while giving them the opportunity to say to their shallow friends ‘we did our best, we sent her a card and heard nothing back’. All of this was a second betrayal. However, these people are trash. That’s a judgement I find hard to make about others. I am learning to at least see people as they are even if I don’t say anything. Generally I do my best to stay well away from those who are habitually unkind. I rise above. No contact is easy because of lack of kids (another area where I failed miserably and wasn’t I made to feel that by the mother). Not always easy though.

    • “People need to stop trying to be non judgmental, that’s gone way the fuck too far.”

      Here! Here! All it’s done is made bad behavior rampant.

  • I have a handy new phrase I’ve adopted when someone brings up my ex’s name. I simply raise my hand up and say, “I don’t want to hear about him.” And depending on the audience I also add, “He’s dead to me.” Works every time for people who care about me, and if they don’t care and they’re offended, then they’re off the list.

    I was also very close to my in laws. I’m closer than my ex was to them and I made all the effort to keep them in our lives for 25 years. So oddly we’ve managed a connection because of their granddaughter and they care about me. But they also know to keep it generic and stick to asking questions about me and my daughter. So far they’ve been good about it, and if not, I’ll protect myself. It’s really important to set boundaries and I like myself when I can use them. It makes me feel mighty!

    Your MIL sounds like she’s into the drama. Keep your boundaries up and please get a good lawyer.

  • It appears many cheaters come from families in an upbringing that modeled dyfunction. Cheating, divorce(s), disrespect, abandonment, abuse, drama and ongoing chaos was the family dynamic. I think they started out looking for a stable marriage partner to show them love and to try to end the insecurity of being in interpersonal relationships. Some can go a fair distance; others never make it far. Once the real challenges of adulthood come, like family, children, jobs, and the changes that married life brings – they can’t handle the pressure. Nowhere in upbringing did anyone model functional relations. So, they go back to what they know best. It’s more familiar, simpler, less responsibly and obligation, and they know the drill.

    If they don’t grow up at some point, this is their forward trajectory in life.

    As for the in-laws, there’s an old saying that helps us all remember our part as parents:
    “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

  • Awake – Is it possible that, of the four of you, you are the last to accept the end of your marriage? D-day was very recent and very cruel. Those who should participate in honest conversations with you are not.

    You didn’t mention your own therapist or lawyer. Where is your support team? No one can get through this alone and there will be months of taking important (and quiet) steps.

    Put on your own oxygen mask first and then help your daughter.

  • Lack of sleep is tough. Time for basic self-care – healthy nourishment, healthcare support (STD test!), therapist support, discreetly get to a legal advice and start lining up those ducks.

    Sorry but put down the hopium – xMIL does NOT have your interests at heart.

    Please look after yourself, then your daughter!

  • Awakeatnight,

    I seem to think there is some triangulation games going on here generating from your STBX epicenter.

    First image management. A narc-ish move is to portray to others that everthing is great and wonderful with his new life. They are off on a cloud dont you know. Happy happy happy. So happy they have to tell it from the rooftops. Too too perfect. Do not believe it. Hes just running the reel of an image he wants others to see and believe. He doesnt want anyone to know not everything is peachy perfect in his new relationship. Relationships never are.

    Next is triangulation. By saying his new sex life is the best he has ever had is a dagger thrown your way. Its his way of demeaning you and abusing you from afar very purposefully. What sort of cruel man would voice it if not to inflict hurt. Its a weapon that aims for the heart. Your heart. To minimize the poison of this, think about what kind of lover he was to you. Not so over the moon spectacular?? Mmmm didnt think so. There. He knows deep down he is the true zonk prize (cheater liar, sneak, manipulator, poor dad, wrinkled old wanna be pervert…and icing on the cake not such a great lover either) If this venom spews again I would let him have exactly what hes afraid of and let the world know. “Well I do feel sorry for OW knowing that STBX never amounted to much in the bedroom and my such a short penis. Poor poor dear.” LoL

    Flying monkey MIL. STBX has fed communication to her which is what he wants. So it gets to you. If you are in no contact or little contact he can use other people (MIL) to communicate to you through them. Everything MIL flying monkey has told you is hurtful for you to hear. In order to stop flying monkeys you have to go no contact with them as well. STBX may also be communicating vicariously through your MIL to push you to get your daughter to make amends with him. STBX has an agenda.

    • ““Well I do feel sorry for OW knowing that STBX never amounted to much in the bedroom and my such a short penis. Poor poor dear.” LoL”

      Lol, this reminds me of Dorothy on “The Golden Girls” after she turned her ex husband down Stann, who tried to get her to let him come back. His girl friend Chrissy called, and he looked at Dorothy and said “are you sure” Dorothy said “yep”. So he started out the door and D said where are you going, he said well if you won’t come back at least with Chrissy there is great sex.

      He walked out the door and Dorothy raised her glass and said “here is to great sex, and to the dumb blonde that isn’t getting any”.

  • Your former mother-in-law is an asshole, and sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    It seems like so many of these male cheaters have mothers who just want them to be ‘happy’ at any cost to other people, and actually support their shitty behavior. Co – narcs.

  • One thing that you have to accept after any breakup, regardless of the cause, is that your ex’s family will back their blood and not you. Even if they sympathize with you, liked you a lot (aka “loved you like a daughter”), even wish the ex hadn’t cheated and/or broken up with you. They will still stand by the ex in the end. He’s their blood and blood truly is thicker than water. They’ll usually (not always) take his side in things, as well.

    This is a major reason why when you go no-contact with an ex, you need to go no-contact with their whole family, to the level possible when children are involved. That means that just like with the ex, your only communication with them is about drop-off/pick-up times if there are any, child event times, etc., and those are best communicated electronically rather than verbally.

    I’m sure you hate to lose that part of your life as I know a partner’s family can come to feel like your own family, too, but in the end they really aren’t. As you’ve noticed, it doesn’t help you to closely interact with people sympathetic to your ex. Stop having personal conversations with your ex. No contact except for minimal practicalities.

  • ‘If his balls could fit in a demitasse cup? Not your problem.’ CLady is hysterical. Do you remember that question, who would you like to have dinner with? I think my answer now would be CLady!

  • Awake,

    What an awful woman that MIL turned out to be. And, your soon-to-be ex is a tool. I would like to type a string of very bad words, but won’t – you know he’s a #$%^. And, who cares if his hormones cool off, good riddance. What a cold hearted man and his accomplice (OW) to disregard how his own actions contributed to his daughters unnecessary pain. She’s a teenager for crying out loud. Her dad has shown her that he has weak character, and this is the man who she is supposed to look up to as doing the right thing in life. Yet, there are decent men in the world, Awake – but, you daughter may fixate on what her trusted father did as her new reality for men. Your job is to disrupt this, and show her that there are good people in the world, and that character, courage and honor is still in style.

    I can relate with you. You have to let your daughter know that you are the sane parent, the stable rock in her life that won’t let her fall without support. I was in your place a few years ago and wasted so much precious energy and time doubled over in blind pain over my ex and his cheating with his new girlfriend. Yes, I too had in-laws for 25 years, who out of loyalty for my husband, pretty much ditched me. If I could go back to where you are, I would have cut the emotional loss from the cheating husband much much faster and refocused on building my daughter’s trust in the world again, and my own, too. Awake, there are good decent people out there, don’t let that jerk take up space in your heart or head. Get a lawyer, and make your divorce settlement stellar. If not for yourself, realize, the bigger your share in the divorce, the more you can set aside for your daughter if she needed help, or for her therapy, or for a mother-daughter trip someday, better to have this for you, and as an emergency stash for your daughter, than for any of the husband’s marital assets to go to his schmoopie’s next pedicure.

  • They are turds, both of them.

    You stepped in it and got it on your shoe.

    In future avoid the turds, just merrily step over or around but NOT IN THE TURD!

  • Thanks everyone for your great advise and the many ((hugs)) you sent my way. Your support is invaluable and I am grateful you share your stories – makes me feel like I am not alone in this sh*#/.

    CLs book should be translated into every language on this planet.

    I am about to buy more copies and hand one to my lawyer and one to my therapist. Will buy some extra to hand them out as soon as one of my friends need someone talking no BS but the truth.

    Every post here and every page in the book speaks the plain truth and nothing but the brutal reality of what it means to be cheated on and what betrayal really means to the chump and his or her family.

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